Last night, San Francisco Giant Matt Cain hurled just the 22nd perfect game in Major League Baseball’s history, and the very first in the team’s 129-year existence. I watched this game on television almost as it occurred in San Francisco. It was nothing short of thrilling, and an object lesson crushing the argument that the home run is the most exciting facet in baseball. As statistics metaphorically tell us, good pitching will always beat good hitting.
As the last three innings methodically unwound their historic tale, the sense of anticipation – tinged almost unbearably with trepidation – was absolutely material. You could feel the excitement of the fans in the stadium, the tempered wonder of the commentators, and the determination of the defense all converging methodically on the mound. It was as though everyone’s breathing began to fill up the small space immediately surrounding the determined pitcher, who established with his arm the general pattern of respiration for the entirety. We could feel the collective air leak out briefly in the tone of Mike Krukow’s call, when Gregor Blanco made his improbable catch in right field. It almost exploded from the crowd’s final surge, as Joaquin Arias shifted to his back foot but threw forward across the diamond to record the final out.
I’ve been pretty vocal throughout my sports-viewing life about the idiocy of ‘we’. When a fan claims, “We did it!” as her/his respective team puts a game or a series out of reach of the opposition, I tend to think, “Oh really? What exactly is it that you think you did? I mean, besides drink your sixteen-ounce beer while eating nachos as dessert to half a meat lovers pizza?” But last night, as pitch after dreadfully taut pitch passed over home plate, this Giants fan of thirty-two years understood the sentiment, and felt part of something much larger than one person’s accomplishment.